Jan 19, 2016
Saracens and Toulouse Go Head to Head
Despite their faltering European fortunes this season Toulouse currently sit second in the Top 14 and will be looking to defend their excellent home record when Saracens visit this Saturday. Four times winners of the European Competition, Toulouse have a squad full of experience and international class. Here we take a look at some of the key head to heads taking to the Stade Ernest-Wallon pitch this weekend.
Picamoles v Vunipola
Capped 51 times by his country and 150 times by his Club Louis Picamoles is a firm fixture of French rugby, playing a key role in helping to Toulouse to three top 14 titles since joining the club in 2009. Picamoles will line up against Jackson Wray who wears the No.8 shirt for the men in black this weekend. Wray has impressed off the bench this season and will form a key member of the Saracens back row as Vunipola joins up with England for the six nations. Vunipola is named on the bench this week and the Sarries’ bulldozer, who made 54 meters and 19 carries against Ulster, will surely be another thorn in the Toulouse side should he feature. With the news that the 29 year old Picamoles will join Northampton Saints next season the weekend’s clash will offer fans an insight into a head to head we will be seeing plenty more of in seasons to come.
Fickou v Barritt
Gael Fickou may only be 21 but already he has made quite an impression on the rugby pitch, being cited by many as the future for the French midfield. His scintillating running game has earned him many plaudits and even a comparison to Sonny Bill Williams from team-mate Maxime Médard. Currently Toulouse’s top scorer in the competition, Fickou will be looking to cross the whitewash again on Saturday and add to this tally. Containing Fickou will be a high priority for the Saracens defence and at the fore front of this will be captain Brad Barritt, returning to the side after missing last week’s game with a knock. A defensive lynch-pin for Saracens, Barritt embodies the wolf pack mentality and will play a key role in containing Fickou and his teammates.
Dusatoir v Rhodes
The Toulouse captain recently announced his retirement from international rugby after winning 80 caps for France, 56 of those as captain. Voted World Rugby Player of the Year in 2011, Dusatoir is known for the consistency in his performances and his impressive tackle rate which has cemented his position as one of the best flankers of his time. Up against the French legend on Saturday will be Mike Rhodes who has quickly become a Saracens favourite since joining the North Londoners at the start of this season, impressing with both his set piece performances and his ball carrying skills.